Government Moves Against Women’s Freedom League in Tax Case

The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

The Government Moves Against Us.

After nearly two years’ delay, during which some attempts have been made to fathom the depths of the Freedom League’s resistance to the Insurance Act — even though Mr. Wedgwood Benn, in the ‘unavoidable absence’ of Mr. Masterman, assured Mr. Jowett in the House of Commons that he had not heard of it — an inspector of the Insurance Commissioners arrived at Headquarters on and spent what Mark Twain used to call “a variegated time” in interviewing the members of the staff. We anticipate the Government’s next move with lively interest.

Our hon. treasurer, Dr. [Elizabeth] Knight, is still awaiting the announcement that accommodation has been reserved for her in the Government’s “Third-rate Hotel” at Holloway owing to her refusal to recognise the Insurance Act. But the Government has remembered her dog at Woodbridge! Mrs. [Hortense] Lane, who has charge of the dog, has been summoned for non-payment of its license and that of her own dog. Next week we shall have pleasure in reporting the proceedings.

Our secretary, Miss F[lorence].A. Underwood, has been honoured by a letter offering a “final opportunity” to pay Income-tax on a supposititious figure, all other attempts to gain information as to her income having been met by a flat refusal couched in the words, “No Vote, No Information!” Miss Underwood is only surprised that the fertile imagination of the authorities did not put her income at a figure high enough to come under the proposed new working of the Super-tax.

The letter, signed by the solicitor of Internal Revenue, runs as follows:—

I am directed by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to apply for payment of an arrear of Income-tax, Schedule E, due from you for , amounting to £11 13s. 4d., and to acquaint you that unless the same be paid to the Accountant-General of Inland Revenue at this office within seven days from this date, proceedings will be commenced for the recovery thereof without further notice.

As the result of proceedings in the High Court of Justice will be to render you liable to costs, in default of payment, I think it right before the Writ is issued to give you this final opportunity of settling the matter by payment of the duty.

As soon as the Writ is received it will be put up to auction, and offers for this historic communication between the Monarch and the subject may now be sent to our hon. treasurer for the benefit of the League.

Also from the same issue:

Who Will Bid?

The Women’s Freedom League has defied the Insurance Act ever since it came into force; not one penny has been paid into the Government coffers to lessen Mr. Lloyd George’s deficit. Our members are refusing to pay income tax and, as is well known, our president has for several years treated with contempt cajoling “final opportunities” and “last chances” to pay. This action is a protest against the Government’s betrayal of Liberal principles as applied to women. “No vote, no tax,” is our impregnable position, not to be surrendered until women have equal rights with men in controlling national expenditure. Every Budget Day is an insult to us. Money is demanded of women for the ever-growing millions required to pay the Nation’s debts, all incurred by men, and to pay the salaries of the men who incur them. Voteless women are victims plundered by the Government and powerless to say how their money should be spent. We welcome the indications that the Government is now making a move against us. Our secretary, Miss F.A. Underwood, after having returned many applications from Somerset House for income tax with the message, “No Vote, No Information.” has now received a “final opportunity” letter, the forerunner of a writ against her. Particulars will be found in another column, and we call attention to the fact that the writ, when received, will be put up for auction. Who will bid for this interesting document? In due time it will become historic — an object lesson of the fight women had to wage with “chivalrous” men for freedom. In the meantime we say to the Government: “We are prepared! Do your worst!”